Make Your Marriage Great Again!

by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio

WINNING WITH THE WORD

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Hello and Happy Day! This is Dr. MaryAnn Diorio, your Virtual Life Coach, welcoming you to another episode of Winning with the Word. Today is Monday, February 3, 2020. Today’s Podcast is Episode #5 in Series 2020 and is titled “Make Your Marriage Great Again!”

Recently, my husband and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. While this is quite a milestone to say the least, we didn’t get there by strolling hand in hand down the pathway of life without a few bumps and bruises along the way. Sometimes major ones! We reached that 50-year milestone because of a lot of patience, perseverance, and plain pluck!

Because my husband and I are somewhat of a marriage anomaly in this day and age, young people often approach us asking how we stayed married for so long. They also tell us that they are afraid to get married. When they have seen more marriage defeat than success, it’s no wonder they are leery of getting married.

What young people have seen in the marriages of their elders has only served to discourage, depress, and drive them away from marriage. Instead, many of today’s young people have opted for living together, a state called cohabitation.

To hear young people say that they are afraid to get married makes me very sad since marriage was instituted by God to bless and to be a blessing. Yet, I understand their reticence. Why risk all the pain and heartache of a divorce when they can simply avoid all that suffering by leaving themselves a way out? In other words, by simply living together without a legal commitment.

Before we examine the fallacies and dangers of cohabitation, however, let me be quick to explain that I do not by any means condone living together. Plain and simple, cohabitation is a violation of God’s Word, and any violation of God’s Word is sin. And, as the Bible warns us in Romans 6: 23, “the wages of sin is death.” Sin will always lead to death and destruction on some level. 

Yet, today more couples are living together outside of marriage than within marriage. In fact, a 2018 article published by the United States Census Bureau states that “cohabitation is now more prevalent than living with a spouse.” The article goes on to state that in 2018, nine percent of the US population lived with an unmarried partner compared to seven percent who lived with a spouse. This is a troubling state of affairs. 

While there are many articles out there giving supposedly good reasons for living together before marriage, I’m going to give you good reasons—God’s reasons–for NOT living together. And here’s a little hint: Choosing any of our own reasons to live together over God’s reasons not to live together will ultimately hurt us. 

The first thing we need to consider is that marriage was God’s idea! And so was sex! Because marriage is so special to God, He set up boundaries for protecting it as an institution and for protecting the husband, wife, and children in a marriage. The chief boundary God placed was that sex—the single act that differentiates marriage from every other human relationship—must be confined to marriage. Why did God set this boundary? Because to have sex outside of marriage is dangerous not only to the psychological and physical well-being of the partners involved but, more importantly, to their spiritual well-being. Sex outside of marriage also poses grave dangers to any children involved. (See my post and podcast titled Sex and Soul Ties.)

Now, those people who say that God doesn’t want us to enjoy sex are completely mistaken. They’ve made God into their own image instead of allowing Him to make them into His image, as He originally intended. And any image that man makes of God is a false image. You see, we can’t start with ourselves and then fit God into our picture. We always have to start with God and fit ourselves into His picture.

The same is true of marriage. When we choose to create our own ideas about marriage, we distort God’s plan for marriage, And distorting God’s plan for marriage is always dangerous. In order for a marriage to work, it must align with God’s plan for marriage. Otherwise, that marriage won’t work as it should. Plain and simple. Nor will any sexual relationship work outside of God’s plan for sex to be engaged in only in marriage.

So, what is God’s plan for marriage? Let’s take a look at it:

  1. A marriage must be between one man and one woman (Genesis 2: 23-24).  Otherwise, according to God, it is not a marriage. It is an abomination. Jesus said in Mark 10: 6-8: “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother [and be joined to his wife], and the two shall become one flesh.'”  This verse clearly indicates that marriage is to be between one man and one woman. To distort God’s plan through what is erroneously called “gay marriage” will eventually destroy the partners involved and will, if they do not repent, destroy them eternally.
  2. A marriage must be built on a firm foundation (1 Corinthians 3: 11). Just as a house needs a firm foundation or else it will collapse, so does a marriage need a firm foundation or else it will collapse. There is only one firm foundation on which to build a lasting marriage. That firm foundation is Jesus Christ. Indeed, in the Bible, Jesus calls Himself the ROCK (Psalm 89: 26). He also calls Himself the CORNERSTONE (Ephesians 2: 20). Unless a marriage is built on Christ, it will not be all it was meant to be.
  3. A marriage must reflect the love of Christ for His Church. In Ephesians 5: 32, the Apostle Paul calls marriage “a mystery” related to Christ and His relationship to the Church. Chapter 5 of Ephesians further instructs a man to love his wife and a wife to respect her husband. Love and Respect. These are the two foundational principles of a great marriage. When the husband loves his wife as Christ loves the Church, and when the wife respects her husband as she respects the Lord, the marriage will be great!

What does it mean to build a marriage on Christ? Simply put, it means to make Him the Lord of our marriage. But in order to make Christ Lord of our marriage, we need first to make Him Lord of our life. How do we do that?

First, we must be born again. This means that we must acknowledge that we cannot save ourselves and that we need Jesus to save us. Then we must personally receive Him as our Savior. And then we must submit to His instructions for making our marriage great.

Yes, you may be surprised to learn that God has given us instructions on how to have a great marriage. If we think things through, however, we should not be surprised that the God Who created us and who created marriage would give us a manual for marriage. That manual is called the Bible. In it, you will find advice for every situation you will ever face not only in your marriage, but also in your life.

For example, the Bible says in Malachi 2: 16 that God hates divorce. My husband and I have stayed married for 50 years because we entered marriage with the mindset that God hates divorce and that divorce was not an option. We would make our marriage work, no matter what forces of hell would come against us.

And the forces of hell did come against us, as they do in any marriage. You see, Satan hates marriage because it reflects Christ’s love for His Church and the Church’s love for Him. So Satan works continuously to destroy marriages, especially Christian marriages. Husbands and wives need to be aware of his deceptive tactics and resist them together.

Remember this: Your spouse is not your problem. Satan is your problem. You and your spouse are a team and need to join hands in driving Satan out of your marriage. You can do this only when Jesus rules and reigns in your hearts.

So, why do my husband and I have a great marriage?

1. We did marriage God’s way, and we still do marriage God’s way.
2. We put God first in our lives and in our marriage.
3. We put each other first.
4. We recognize that Satan is our real enemy, and we fight him together through daily prayer and through the reading of God’s Word.

You, too, can have a great marriage! It will take work and effort. But most of all, it will take Jesus Christ at the helm of your life and of your marriage. If Jesus is not yet in your life, I urge you to invite Him into your life and into your marriage right now. Pray this simple prayer with me:

Lord Jesus, my marriage is not what it should be, but You can change it. I come to You now in my need. I invite You into my life. I receive You as my Savior. Be the Lord of my life and of my marriage. Make my marriage great again, Lord, as only You can. In Your Name, I pray. Amen.

If you prayed this simple prayer, please write to me at drmaryann@maryanndiorio.com. I would like to send you a little booklet that will help you get started in your relationship with Jesus Christ. I also encourage you to get yourself a Bible and read it every day, starting in the Gospel of John, which is in the second half of the Bible. Finally, ask the Lord to lead you to the church of His choice for you where you can learn about Him and find fellowship and encouragement with other Christ-Followers.

For an outstanding resource on building a great marriage, I highly recommend the book titled Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs (Affiliate Link). It is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retail stores. You may also purchase it at the link in the show notes.I also recommend my own little booklet titled Making Your Marriage Work. It is available on my website and Amazon.

For additional resources, articles, books, and podcasts to help you grow in your walk with Christ, I invite you to visit my website at maryanndiorio.com. This podcast is found on Apple Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, Spreaker, Soundcloud, Castbox, Podbean, Podchaser, and Deezer, so I encourage you to subscribe.

If you have been blessed by these messages, I also invite you to become a Winning with the Word patron on Patreon. As a patron you will enjoy special benefits only for patrons. Just go to Patreon.com and search for Winning with the Wordto join.

In closing, I would like to recognize, honor, and thank this week’s sponsor of Winning with the Word, my awesome husband of 50 years, Dr. Dominic Diorio, my very first patron on Patreon.

Thank you so much for listening. This is Dr. MaryAnn Diorio, your virtual life coach, reminding you that God loves you just as you are and just where you are, and that He will help you to keep on winning with the Word.

https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2018/11/cohabitaiton-is-up-marriage-is-down-for-young-adults.html

Listen to the podcast here:

 

Now it’s your turn: Does your marriage need improvement? Would you like Jesus to help make your marriage great again? Please leave your comment in the Comment Box below. Thank you!

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SECRETS OF A SUCCESSFUL MARRIAGE

by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio

Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4: 23
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Last month, my husband and I celebrated our 48th wedding anniversary! Praise the Lord!

Young people often ask us how we stayed married for so long. While I can understand this question, given that those who ask it are usually Millennials, I still find it strange.

You see, my husband Dom and I grew up in an era when divorce was rare, and couples entered marriage with the mindset that they would make it work, no matter what. Divorce was not an option on our radar. Lifelong commitment was!

So, today I’d like to share a few reasons that my husband and I have built a strong marriage, a marriage that gets stronger every single day:

1) Both of us entered marriage with the firm conviction and the unwavering commitment that divorce would never be an option. Period! 

2) Both of us entered marriage with the attitude that marriage is not 50-50 but 100-100.  Each of us gives 100% to the other. We do not measure or keep score of what we do for each other. When we see a task that needs to be done, the one who is available and able to do it at the moment does it.

3) Both of us understand that marriage was instituted by God and is meant to reflect Christ’s love for the Church. We seek, therefore, to be a witness for Jesus Christ in and through our marriage. We put Him first in each of our lives, and we put Him first in our marriage. Each of us starts the day spending time in God’s Presence through worship, prayer, and Bible study. We also study the Word together, pray together, and attend church together.

4) Both of us understand that Satan hates marriage and will do whatever he can to destroy marriages, especially Christian marriages. When the enemy attempts to cause problems in our marriage–as he does in all marriages–we remember that we are not at odds with each other but that we are a team united against a common enemy who is out to destroy us. Because we are in Christ, we expect to overcome every single time because Jesus has already defeated Satan. Hallelujah!

5) Both of us do our best to laugh at least once a day–usually several times a day. My husband has a great sense of humor and can find humor in almost any situation. I have learned from him to look for the humor in the mundane, although I usually “get” jokes about a week after I hear them. 🙂

6) Both of us have learned to respect and honor our differences and to capitalize on them. As my husband has often said, “If we were exactly alike, one of us wouldn’t be necessary.”

7) Both of us have learned that love is, first and foremost, a decision and not a feeling. Love is an act of the will–a decision to put the other’s needs above one’s own, no matter how we may feel at the moment.

8) Each of us has learned to treasure the other as a unique creation of God. We respect each other as a precious child of God, and we do our best to treat each other with the constant knowledge that we will have to answer to God for how we treated His child.

Marriage takes work. God’s primary goal in marriage–and in life, in general–is not to make us happy but to make us holy. As we yield to our Lord, obeying His will as revealed in His Word, we will have not only deeply enriching marriages but also deeply enriching lives. The choice is ours!

Now it’s YOUR turn! What are your secrets for a successful marriage? Please comment in the box below. Thanks! 

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In my latest novel, RETURN TO BELLA TERRA, heroine Maria Landro learns one of the secrets of a successful marriage. 


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Matters of the Heart is a weekly blog that deals with the deepest issues of the human heart, the issues we all face but sometimes don’t want to talk about. The heart is the programming center of our lives. What is programmed into our heart will affect every area of our lives. Learn how to discover what is in your heart and how to program your heart for success.

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Special Blog Post: My Thoughts on the SCOTUS Decision on Gay Marriage

A loving warning to those who would defy God

Statement by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio on Recent Supreme Court Decision on Gay Marriage

While the recent Supreme Court decision on gay marriage focused on marriage between two men or two women, I would contend that the real issue underlying this abominable decision goes far beyond gay and lesbian marriage.

Truth Text Red Black BurstPhoto Source: Fotolia File: #84769189 | Author: ileezhun

The issue is not homosexuality. Homosexuality is one sin among many, although Scripture does state that sexual sins differ in that they are sins against our own bodies (I Corinthians 6:18). The issue is that our culture has strayed from a Biblical worldview.

A Biblical worldview is based on Absolute Truth, and Absolute Truth is defined as what God says in His Word. God has determined the standard for what is right and what is wrong. No man can change that standard without suffering serious negative consequences.

But, in our culture, we have attempted to replace God’s standard of right and wrong with our own. This is called humanism, aka relativism. Today, the standard for determining right and wrong is public opinion, the majority rule.

But God’s standard is true whether I believe it or not. I may believe that the law of gravity does not apply to me, but if I jump off a roof, I will go down, not up. Likewise, God’s laws cannot change regardless of what I believe about them.

God has declared that homosexuality is wrong and against the nature of man. Note what He says in His Word: “… do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” Many kinds of sin are included in this warning.

We can flaunt God all we want, but He also says this: “Don’t be misled; remember that you can’t ignore God and get away with it: a man will always reap just the kind of crop he sows!” (Galatians 6:7).

I plead with those of you who want to hold fast to ideas that are against God’s Word to reconsider. Man is not the one who decides what is true or not true. That has already been decided and determined by God and is found in the Holy Scriptures. No one can arbitrarily change what is true or not true. We may try to do so, but we will end up destroying ourselves in the process.

As we have abandoned God and His Holy Scriptures, we have created a culture of people who are lost, afraid, and without purpose. You may not believe that the Bible is the unerring Word of God, but what if it is? I happen to believe it is and base my entire life on it. God’s Word has never failed to prove true for me in the 45 years during which I have followed Jesus Christ. God’s Word will always prove true, no matter how much one may oppose it or disagree with it.

Remember: we are not God. He is!

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Copyright 2015 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All Rights Reserved.

The Secret to Life-Long Love

WeddingRingsLast October, my husband and I celebrated 45 years of marriage. When we reached this wonderful milestone, many people–especially young people–asked us how we did it. Perhaps you, too, would like to know the answer to that question. So, here is our secret for our marital longevity. It can be summed up in one word: Jesus!

Lest you roll your eyes at the simplicity of my answer, hear me out. The key to my husband’s and my many wonderful years of marriage is that each of us keeps Christ at the center of our personal lives and at the center of our marriage. Christ is the focal point around which our lives are built and around which our marriage is built. This is not to say that we have not had our challenges. We certainly have. But it is to say that every one of our challenges has been resolved at the foot of the Cross.

So, what is it about Jesus that makes for a life-long love? The answer is simple. Jesus is Love, and a marriage that has Jesus at its center is a marriage that has love at its center. But the love found in Jesus is not what most people understand as love. The love of Jesus is agape love, and only agape love can sustain a marriage over the long haul.

Aristotle (and, later, C.S. Lewis) described four types of love:  philia, storge, agape and erosPhilia is described as brotherly love, the love one feels for a close friend. Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, derives its name from this type of love.

Storge is familial love, the kind of love that exists between a parent and a child, and vice versa.

Eros is sexual love, the kind of love to be expressed only within the confines of marriage.

Agape love is unconditional love, the love that seeks the good of the beloved above its own good. Agape love is the kind of love God has for us.

Each of the four loves must be present in a marriage, but the only one of the four that sustains a marriage over the long haul is agape love. If agape love is missing, the other three types of love will eventually break down.

What is agape loveIt is best described in I Corinthians 13:4-8:

  • It is patient.
  • It is kind.
  • It is never jealous or envious.
  • It is never boastful or proud.
  • It is never haughty, or selfish, or rude.
  • It does not demand its own way.
  • It is not irritable or touchy.
  • It does not hold grudges.
  • It will hardly even notice when others do it wrong.
  • It is never glad about in justice, but it rejoices when truth wins out.
  • It remains loyal no matter what the cost.
  • It always believes in the beloved.
  • It always expects the best of the beloved.
  • It always stands its ground in defending the beloved.
  • It never ends.

No human being can walk in agape love without Christ. When we accept Christ as our Savior and Lord, He comes to live within us. It is His life within us that then enables us to love with agape love, His kind of love. Over the 45 years of our marriage, my husband and I have learned to allow the love of Christ in us to flow through us and out of us into each other. This is the secret of our solid marriage. It is solid because it is built on the foundation of agape love, the love of Christ.

Have we ever failed to walk in this love? Many times. But when we do, we repent, pick ourselves up, and start over again. What we are discovering is that each day we commit to walking in Christ’s love toward each other, walking in that love becomes easier and easier. The reason is that the more we yield to Christ’s love in us, the more we take on His nature; the more we become like Him. And the better our marriage becomes.

Unfortunately, most marriages today are built on erotic love first and foremost. Such love has an escape plan. It says that if things go wrong (aka, if my needs aren’t met), I can always get a divorce. In my husband’s and my marriage, divorce has never been an option. We recognize that our marriage is a covenant, not a contract. It is an unbreakable commitment we made to each other in the presence of God, and we vowed before God to honor that commitment. A vow is a very serious thing. We break it at great peril.

Marriage is under serious attack today. The reason is that marriage was designed by God to reflect Christ’s love for His Church. Satan does not want the world to see Christ’s love for the Church as expressed through marriage. So Satan has waged an all-out war against marriage.

If you are married, remember that God has a great stake in your marriage. Give it to Him and let Him make it what He intends it to be. Then one day, you, too, will know the joy of celebrating many years of a wonderful marriage, forged in agape love, the only love that never fails.

Questions: 1) What is your secret for a successful marriage? 2) If you are not married, are you afraid to get married? 3) If so, why?  You may leave your comments by clicking here.  To receive these blog posts in your emailbox, please click here.

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Copyright 2015 by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD. All Rights Reserved.

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